“‘The Sick Kitten’ is interesting for more than its cute factor. It was possibly the first film to use a close-up shot that was not motivated by someone staring down a microscope or ogling through a keyhole.”
“From the 1920s to the early 1960s, Rev. Lonzie Odie Taylor — a self-taught “Renaissance man,” according to Bond — documented African-American neighborhood life [in Memphis, TN] through some 7,000 photographs, close to 100 audio disc recordings and 15 hours of film footage — short, silent movies of baptisms, beauty colleges and barnstorming “Negro” airmen, among other subjects.
An artist of limited means but limitless curiosity and ingenuity, Taylor (1899-1977) began many of his films with hand-lettered credits and title cards that demonstrate he was aware of the potential importance of his work. His 1940 film of a Manassas Street “baptising” opens with the legend: “Another Taylor-Made Picture — Bringing You News & Historical Records — Photographed & Produced by Rev. L.O. Taylor.”
Sometimes, Taylor organized screenings in church basements, and charged 15 cents admission to give people their first opportunity to see themselves on film. Of course, in the current online exhibit, Taylor’s work can be seen free of charge, by those with access to a computer.”
Above: The Roxy Theatre in 1927. An enormous movie palace built in New York City during the 20s, it had its grand opening on March 11, 1927 with the premiere of Gloria Swanson’s new film The Love of Sunya. Swanson both produced and starred in the movie.
Below: Gloria Swanson standing in the ruins of the Roxy Theatre after demolition (wearing $170,000 worth of jewelry, bless her heart!), October 1960.
(top image via : bottom image by Eliot Elisofon for LIFE)